Page last updated at 13:04 GMT, Tuesday, 16 September 2008 14:04 UK

Fewer teachers aim for principals

Pupils - generic image
There are 37 Northern Ireland schools without a permanent principal

By Maggie Taggart
BBC Northern Ireland Education Correspondent

A school leaders' organisation has said that fewer teachers are applying for jobs as school principals.

The BBC has learnt that 37 schools in Northern Ireland do not have a permanent principal.

The Catholic maintained sector and the South Eastern Board each have 13 schools with temporary principals.

The Association of School and College Leaders said the government should do more to lessen the load on head teachers.

Schools in England and Wales are struggling to fill principals' posts and Northern Ireland has not reached crisis point.

ASCAL, the association which represents school leaders mostly in grammar schools said there has been a big fall in the number of teachers applying for the jobs.

Frank Cassidy, principal of St Louis Grammar in Ballymena and also president of ASCAL, said some staff were put off by the pressure of the role.

"We are seeing many fewer applications so that for a given job you might have half the applicants you would have had 10 years ago," he said.

"I can see senior teachers and deputies looking at the head's role and being, frankly, frightened of taking on the pressure.

"But I think ourselves and the Department of Education have to look at ways of bringing school leaders in general more front and centre and trying to develop the leadership skills that are going to be needed in the years ahead."

In some cases the top posts are not being filled because of uncertainty over the future of the schools.

Education boards say teachers are particularly reluctant to apply for jobs as teaching principals.

An improvement in teachers' salary is also said to make the promotion less attractive.

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